CHESHIRE East Council's local plan has been lauded by the government in a letter sent by the secretary of state.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has written a personal letter to the leader of Cheshire East Council, praising the authority and urging developers to work with the council.

In his letter Mr Pickles said he welcomed the fact that the authority had established a revised housing figure and that the emerging Local Plan will protect the countryside and the green belt.

He said: ”I am glad that you have found helpful discussions with Planning Minister Nick Boles and the support that we have provided on plan-making via the former Chief Planning Inspector.

“The Government’s changes to legislation and policy have put Local Plans at the heart of the planning system.

"Our policy sets out clearly that emerging plans may gain weight as they progress but before they are formally adopted.

“A published Local Plan will therefore mean that Cheshire East is better able to guard against speculative or unwanted development.

"I appreciate the development pressures and planning constraints in the area, and would therefore openly encourage developers to work alongside you as your plan progresses in order to bring forward appropriate development.”

He also praised the council for working alongside neighbours during the process, adding: “Although I cannot pre-determine the outcome of examination, I very much welcome that you have established a revised housing figure, your statement that the emerging Local Plan will protect the countryside and the green belt and your engagement with neighbouring High Peak Borough Council.”

The Local Plan, which was voted on and passed through full council on Friday, February 28, has been almost three years in the making and has been publicly consulted on as many six consultations. It is due to go before the Planning Inspectorate in Spring this year and it is hoped that it will be ratified before the end of the year.

Clr Michael Jones, leader of CEC, said: “I am also delighted to have received a letter from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, where he confirms that emerging local plans like ours gain weight as they progress, helping guard against unwanted and unsustainable development.

“It just goes to show that the hard work involved in getting the Local Plan to fruition has been recognised by our Government.”

“Developers should take note of this and work with the council on sensible, sustainable proposals.”